Murdered mum brought close through strangers’ stories

Georgina Jacobs with her late mother, Karen. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Georgina Jacobs with her late mother, Karen. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
She was just 2 when her mother was murdered in Dunedin. Now, Georgina Jacobs is learning more about a "creative and loving soul". Molly Houseman reports.

Beyond the headlines of her mother’s violent death, Georgina Jacobs knew little about her.

Now strangers are filling in the gaps: "Apparently she loved me a lot."

Karen Jacobs (26) was murdered by her ex-partner, a mental health patient, in her Caversham home, in Dunedin, in 1997.

Ms Jacobs, then 2, was in the room next door when it happened.

The 25-year-old Christchurch woman has spent years haunted by her mother’s murder.

She sometimes felt like the only memories she had of her mother were from the day she was killed, but did not know if she could rely on those because they might have come from everything she had read and heard about the case.

That was until now.

Earlier this week, Ms Jacobs, who is married but asked to use her maiden name, was overwhelmed by a feeling of wanting to ask her mother for advice while she was experiencing a difficult time.

"I just thought, I would love to know what Mum would do in this situation."

But it had been too hard on her family to talk about her mother since her death, which Ms Jacobs said she could understand.

So, she took to the social media to ask if anyone knew her mother and what she was like.

The response was more than she could have hoped for.

Dozens of people who had been friends with her mother, worked with her, or even passed through her checkout when she worked at the then Woolworths in Andersons Bay messaged Ms Jacobs to share stories.

They had been "life-changing" to read.

"I did not expect that response at all. To be honest, I thought the post would be completely overlooked."

Karen Jacobs was a beautiful person who was always smiling, happy to help and vibrant, she was told.

"Apparently she loved me a lot, which is something you hear from a couple of family members ... but hearing it from so many different people, it just makes everything so much more real."

Specific details had helped her feel closer to her mother.

"She drove a Cortina blaring Bon Jovi, U2 and Pat Benatar. She loved make-up, was a creative and loving soul. She enjoyed Midori and loved going to the Skate Inn [roller skating rink] with her friends."

Her mother also loved having a long black at the Little Hut Cafe in George St.

"Now, whenever I want to feel closer to her, I can listen to these songs and think of her."

Earlier this month, her mother’s killer, Gareth Smither, was denied parole.

While she did not want to comment on the matter, she said she had gone to all the parole board hearings, including the most recent, but it would be the last time.

"I want to start thinking about Mum in a more positive way and the impact that she has had on people."

Ms Jacobs was thankful to those who had contacted her and shared stories about her mother.

"It has been really special, and it has been a massive gift to me.

"They have made such an impact and if there is anyone else out there that has anything to say about Mum [they should get in contact]."

She urged other people who had lost a parent at a young age to do what she did, and "not just have the way that they died cemented into them".

"It is just too hard living like that."

Her decision to move to Christchurch this year was something she needed to do for herself, despite previously feeling a sense of responsibility to stay in Dunedin, where her mother was born.

It had allowed her to "just be herself".








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